Wednesday, 21 April 2010

On charity and the development of nations

How about charity, Obo, can't you even give a good word for that in your nasty, shilling little diatribe?

Well, I have several words, good and bad, to offer on the subject of charity.

The first point to make is that a lot of what passes for charity nowadays is just rent-seeking and lobbying, sponsored by the government, with high-priced execs coining it and using your money to tell you how to live your life.

There is still good charity out there. Unfortunately, I suspect a lot of it has been crowded out of the market by the guys who can afford TV campaigns. Why would you donate to a donkey sanctuary when you're giving a fiver a month to the RSPCA? The fact that your fiver isn't saving any animals but is paying for third-sector bully to harass you is irrelevant, I'm sure.

But let's put aside the fact that Oxfam and the WWF are just lobbying organisations now, let's pretend that we're only dealing with "good" charity.

There is always a call for humanitarian charity, in the event of a crisis. Some of it actually makes it past the grasping hands of those corrupt officials who skim off the top. But there is only so far any charity can go. If all the charity was directed at a specific and small enough group of people, it might actually help them out of poverty, but it could only do so at the expense of everyone else.

It's very unlikely that people, with increasing pressure on their own lives, would find a case for funding an entire nation out of debt. And it would be a zero-sum game - those giving to the charity would have their own lives diminished by what they are giving (apart from that lovely warm glow, of course!)

And what would the recipients of that charity have at the end of it? A pile of money with nothing to buy and nothing to sustain their wealth. When they run out of that money, do they tap us up again? What happens when we run out of money?

Oh! They're going to start their own factories and stuff, are they? With what expertise? With what motivation?

No, I'm afraid that charity (and "development aid") are not a solution to this: free and honest trade between nations with no tariffs, no barriers and no pointless regulation is the only way for Nation A to help Nation B get out of the horror of subsistence farming as quickly and as sustainably as possible.

The single biggest barrier to Africa getting wealthy in a sustainable fashion is probably the Common Agricultural Policy, which keeps (mainly French) farmers wealthy while starving African food producers.

The biggest act of charity you could perform would be to destroy the CAP.


schlumpf23 said...

Great article, completely agree.

Tim said...

Hear hear. One could say that those who perpetuate the CAP are not being charitable.

Surreptitious Evil said...

I'm fairly sure that the various US protectionist measures do at least as much damage as the CAP (especially as they tend to be aimed higher up the value-add chain - which is where we want to be encouraging economies to develop too) but that's beside the point. But, yes, CAP delendum est.

Fairtrade is another good target for charitable destruction.

On the other hand, I'm fairly fond of Kiva. You even get your money back ...

Dippyness. said...

Brilliant article Sir!! Total agreement!! Well Done!!

g1lgam3sh said...


w/v squeses...I kid you not

Dave said...

Slightly over simplified with some huge assumptions but some fair points.

Chuckles said...

Name one 'good' charity. If you can, it's a guarantee it's a narrow focus and small.
And the few that do qualify are being co-opted and corrupted as fast as the filth in government can find them.

In addition the the CAP as a restraint on development, the tribalism and corruption in Africa are a close second.

Well said, great article

Dave said...

So Mr Chuckles, how do the good small charities increase their impact without increasing the work they are doing and as a result growing?

Tourist said...

Absolutely right, this stuff
needs to be said more often - especially regarding the Orwellian Fairtrade which of course is rife with kickbacks, croneyism, and genuine unfairness.

J Demetriou said...

Excellent piece dissecting the good and bullshit elements of charity - nicely done.

Glad to see I am of some to your site mate, probably one of the few sources of positive inspiration. Most of the rest of your 'posts' are piss weak.

J Demetriou said...

*typo correction

"Glad to see I am of some USE to your site"

How I can forget an entire word is baffling. Fuck sake.

John Demetriou's Gimp said...

Is anyone asking for me?

J Demetriou said...

Yeah, your mum. Now fuck off.

Kevin Boatang said...

Demetriou, me need teh bum sex.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

I am amused, but I have a feeling this isn't going to end well.

Chuckles said...

I wouldn't assume I have the answers to anything, but I'd hazard a guess that staying small and local would be a good idea.
So I suppose - Don't get big?

John Demetriou said...

Can I swing by the Cuntry Club, Obnoxio, and do you hard in the caddy?

I am desperate.

Ed P said...

Dementer ahoy!

J Demetriou said...

Nice to see you engaging in proper blogging Obo. Whipping up the students and sock puppets and spending all your time with mindless slurs and digs against us.

What's the point? Is it because we annoyed you with our piece that teased AnCaps?

I don't get it. Why the malice? I'm not that bothered by all of this mate. You seem to think we are.

Mitch said...

More bile please.

Obnoxio The Clown's Bitch said...

Get back in here!

Chuckles said...

And in other news from MissionCreepRus

H/T Richard N, EuRef.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

"Whipping up the students and sock puppets and spending all your time with mindless slurs and digs against us."

I'm not doing anything. You're the one doing all the whipping up.

And considering it doesn't bother you, you're certainly spending a lot of time here bleating about it. :o)

bayard said...

AFAIK, the purpose of charity for a Buddhist is to acquire merit by giving. What happens to the gift appears to be irrelevant. Hence beggars are provide a useful service (to Buddhists).

bayard said...

"the Common Agricultural Policy, which keeps (mainly French) farmers wealthy"

Isn't that the original purpose of the EU?

ukipwebmaster said...

This is your best post ever.

The Sock Book said...

Charity is the best business to be in right now. Giving is up, but revenues are static cause giving is widening out as people get wise.

I speak as someone raising money for a private company to start a simple charitable volunteering fund for homelessness in London and indeed UK/worldwide... it's not eaasy money, but there is money, and it does corrupt people... combine that with power given to third sector over peoples lives by the government and it's not a pretty situation... but then trying to solve the worst and ugliest facts of our current problems as nations just trying to advance even ourselves in the first world - it ain't easy - and far too many big charities have been given a free lunch instead of their 'wards'/'clients'/'target group'.

You see it in nearly every sphere of "social concern".

The UK can't even do a good bloody googlemap of it's own hostels and homelessness services paid for by the taxpayer year in and year out - so not just the careerists but real people in need get the help needed. That's for all your multimillion pound

It's all Pete Tong. We need a revolution, not just in government, but ourselves to deserve such a change.

Charity is the politics of giving freely. Too many people have been duped into giving bigwigs and busybodies a free ride. It's sickening sometimes even at the lower eschelons of 'voluntary groups' before they become charities.

John Pickworth said...

"And considering it doesn't bother you, you're certainly spending a lot of time here bleating about it."

My thoughts exactly.

Oh and about the post; well argued again Mr Clown. I like to add that I'd never give so much as a penny to the Mega Corp Charities... but of course many of them have their hands down the back of your tax sofa already.

So dear Oxfam (who's great works include their advocacy of the Tobin Tax), the RSPCA (Auschwitz for animals) and WWF (modern day pirates)... please, for the sake of humanity, make yourself extinct. Don't worry about the politicians who gift our wealth to Africa, we'll deal with them soon.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post Obnoxio. Charity is the biggest scam of them all: underwriting totalitarian regimes, financing wars, disabling democracy and economic growth.
Oh, and bossing you about your own children and animals.
Fuck off Oxfam, NSPCC, RSPCA, Shelter, WWF, Care, Plan, etc. etc.

Half the ad companies in the UK would go bust tomorrow if not propped up by the guilt industry.

And no, I don't give a flying fuck about poor Africans - credit them with enough intelligence to (eventually) sort their own problems out.

Is there a charity which prevents elderly UK residents from dying from neglect in their own shit in million-pound Foundation Trust Hospitals??
I'd give to that. Oh, I already do....